When Vicksburg, Mississippi, comes under Union siege in 1863, Claire Louise Corbet’s family joins their neighbors in seeking shelter in nearby caves. Most of the family, that is: Claire’s father, a doctor, is joining a Confederate regiment, and Claire’s beloved brother Landon, also a doctor, is serving with the Union army. When Landon returns to Vicksburg in charge of a wounded Confederate soldier with a secret, Claire finds herself having to make a decision—one that would be difficult enough for an adult to make, much less thirteen-year-old Claire.
Told by the sharp-eyed, sharp-tongued Claire, My Vicksburg is a fast-moving and absorbing story about the effects of war on one close-knit family and about the tension between love, honor, and duty. Claire’s narrative has a homespun feel to it without sounding artificial or strained, and the characters are flawed and endearing. Though Rinaldi doesn’t evade the terrible cost of war, her novel also shows the human capacity to hope and endure, making it a good choice for young readers.